Before Charles Barlow moved to South Shore earlier this year, he wanted to scope out the neighborhood. He looked up the local grocery stores, got in his car, and drove to the corner of 87th Street and Lake Shore Drive, where he expected to find a Mariano’s. Instead of fresh food, he was greeted by grassland and the promise of future development.
Abuilding’s design tells you a lot about who it’s for. The new faux-Parisian townhomes in Lincoln Park appeal to people who want to imitate the prestige and sophistication of a European capital. The large, bright windows of a traditional commercial storefront ask everyone in the neighborhood to come in and check out the merchandise.
Onstage, a man was delivering a stream of words and a woman translated his words into a stream of movement. Together, real-estate developer Peter Levavi and dancer Stacy Patrice composed a marriage of language and body, as if to symbolize the union of two phrases on the screen behind them: “ethical” and “redevelopment.”
“Look at what we’ve got! We’ve got Chance, we’ve got Chance!”
What do bicycle and nature trails have to do with gentrification?
Yet this Black neighborhood stands firm.
On January 11, Tom McMahon stood up to call to order a public meeting at the Pullman National Monument Visitor Center, introducing himself by simultaneously disavowing and affirming the importance of his own place in Pullman’s community: “I’m the president of the Pullman Civic Organization. I’m also a board member of Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives. Tonight, I’m just the moderator, here to ask questions and address concerns raised during the last meeting.”
Before it was demolished as part of a sweeping redevelopment plan, there were 1,426 households in the public housing project consisting of the Ida B. Wells Homes, Madden Park Homes and Clarence Darrow Homes. People displaced by the demolition, which began in 2002, were told they could return; at one point, more than 1,000 replacement units were planned for the site.
It’s one of the city’s busiest library branches with over 21,000 visitors each month, and for years residents have complained of overcrowding and outdated technology.
“Because right now it seems like ‘Oh, there’s just so much land, we have to get this into the private market or figure out what to do with it.’ But soon there will be none left, and whatever is left will be super expensive.”